EPA Lead Program — an NFIB Research CribSheet

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expanding the scope and cost of its Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting (LRRP) program, which seeks to reduce the spread of lead dust from old paint. Unintended and undesirable consequences are likely.

Learn the essential facts about this program in this NFIB Research CribSheet.

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Contractors working on pre-1978 homes require training. Rule #1 Mandatory Training And Certification. In effect since April 2010, LRRP establishes training and certification rules for contractors and employees performing renovation, repair and painting work on residences built prior to January 1, 1978. With some exclusions, those affected include painters, plumbers, contractors, window and door installers, electricians and similar specialists.
LRRP training and certification costs are high. Obtaining certification costs a renovator at least $300 and a painter or painter/renovator at least $550. Extra fees can raise the total to nearly $1,000. Initial courses are $300-$500. Plus the employer has to pay that employee for the day. EPA estimates first-year compliance costs to be $800 million.
The time costs of LRRP are also high. Renovators must initially take an eight-hour training session at an EPA-accredited facility and a four-hour refresher course every five years. Painters and painter/renovators must recertify every three years. Once a certification application is submitted, EPA may take up to 90 days to respond.
LRRP requires contractors to do numerous tasks. A certified renovator must either (1) personally post warning signs, establish work area containment, and clean the work area after renovation, or (2) be present while these tasks are performed by workers who have been trained by a certified renovator.
Penalties are severe. Any renovator found to be in violation of any aspect of the rules is subject to civil penalties under the Toxic Substances Control Act of up to $37,500 per violation.
LRRP notifications have been poor. EPA provided little advance notice of rules and deadlines. As a result, in some areas, certification classes were difficult to find and costs of classes rose markedly.
States run some LRRP programs. Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin, have state EPA-certified programs that operate in lieu of the national rule.
LRRP originally had an opt-out rule. Rule #2: Opt-out Provision Eliminated. Initially, LRRP contained an opt-out provision exempting homes where owners signed a document certifying that there were no children less than six years of age or pregnant women living there.
EPA eliminated the opt-out. In April 2010, the EPA eliminated the opt-out. This action was expected to increase first-year compliance costs from $800 million to $1.3 billion.
The opt-out was defensible. Studies indicate that lead paint is primarily a problem for children and pregnant mothers. Under pressure from public interest groups, EPA rejected this assessment.
EPA sidestepped regulatory law. The EPA failed to meet its legal obligations under the Regulatory Flexibility Act to examine alternative actions and conduct outreach before eliminating the opt-out.
LRRP may expand beyond houses. Rule #3: (Soon-to-be-proposed): Expanding To Non-residential Buildings. A proposed EPA rule would expand these requirements to commercial and other non-residential buildings.
EPA may require dual certifications. EPA may require contractors who work on both residences and non-residences to attend separate classes and acquire separate certification. This would increase costs considerably.
Rules discourage renovation work. Unintended Consequences. Raising costs of renovations, repairs and painting will discourage consumers from undertaking projects. This discourages job creation and retention in building trades.
They encourage illegal renovators. Removing the opt-out and expanding LRRP to non-residential buildings will send an unknown number of renovation jobs “underground,” with more unlicensed and ill-trained renovators doing the work.
This means less insurance and respect for law. Underground contractors are also less likely to carry insurance, to pay taxes, or to comply with other laws – including labor, licensing and environmental laws. By encouraging uncertified contractors, the more expansive regulations place law-abiding renovators at a competitive disadvantage. EPA has admitted that it does not have adequate resources to enforce these rules; they suggested reliance on consumer complaints.
It will also diminish public health and safety. More work by uncertified renovators will mean a greater incidence of lead contamination in homes – including those with children and pregnant mothers. It also increases the potential for more workplace injuries and fatalities.
You can find more help here. For more information. For even more information about the EPA’s new lead requirements, visit NFIB’s LRRP webpage or the EPA’s LRRP site or call 800-424-5323, the National Lead Information Center.

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